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For the Uriah Heep single of the same name, see Stealin' (Uriah Heep).
GD-Scorpio Single.jpg
Single by Grateful Dead
B-side Don't Ease Me In
Released June 1966
Format 7"
Recorded June 1966
Genre Blues rock Psychedelic rock
Length 2:36
Label Scorpio Records
Writer(s) Gus Cannon
Producer(s) Gene Estribou
Grateful Dead singles chronology
Stealin' / Don't Ease Me In
The Golden Road (To Unlimited Devotion) / Cream Puff War

Stealin' (also called Stealin', Stealin') is an American folk song from the 1920s. The song is particularly identified with the jug band tradition, but gained wider popularity after several folk and blues artists recorded it in the 1960s.

Although different artists have recorded different verses, the chorus has remained consistent:

Stealin', stealin', pretty mama don't you tell on me
I'm stealin' back to my same old used to be


The lines “If you don’t believe I love you, look what a fool I’ve been / If you don’t believe I’d fall for you, look what a hole I’m in” were recorded by the New Orleans jazz musician Clarence Williams in 1921 and again by Leona Williams in 1922 as “If You Don't Believe I Love You, Look What a Fool I've Been.”

Gus Cannon claimed to have written the opening line, "Put your arms around me like a circle 'round the sun." On this basis, Cannon is sometimes credited with authorship of the song. However, this line doesn’t appear in any of his recorded songs. It does appear in the folk song “I Know You Rider” and may actually predate Cannon.

Another lyric associated with Gus Cannon is “She's a married woman, but she comes to see me all the time,” which appeared in his “Minglewood Blues,” recorded January 30, 1928.

Memphis Jug Band[edit]

The song as we know it today was first recorded by the Memphis Jug Band as "Stealin' Stealin'." This recording session took place on September 15, 1928 in Memphis, TN and featured Will Shade (harmonica), Vol Stevens (acoustic guitar), Ben Ramey (kazoo), and Jab Jones (vocals, jug).

The label on this release named Will Shade as the composer, and the copyright is still administered by Shade’s publisher, Peermusic (formerly known as the Southern Music Publishing Company). By some standards, this is correct, as a compilation of earlier lyrics is often equated with authorship in the blues genre. On the other hand, most of the lyrics clearly predated the Memphis Jug Band recording. In any case, this recording provided the basis for modern remakes after it was re-released on a compilation called The Country Blues in 1959. When the Grateful Dead recorded it seven years later, they may have mistakenly attributed the song to Gus Cannon because Cannon's song "Walk Right In" appeared on the same compilation.

Grateful Dead[edit]

The song was part of the first ever release by the San Francisco, CA based psychedelic rock band the Grateful Dead, along with "Don't Ease Me In." The Scorpio Sessions, as the recording session was known, comprised several tracks which were released in limited supply by Scorpio Records in July 1966.

Years later, the sessions would appear on the band's twelve-CD box set The Golden Road (1965-1973) released on October 21, 2002 before released as part of the stand-alone album Birth of the Dead in March 2003. Other Dead albums the song has appeared on including:

Jerry Garcia also recorded the song with friend and collaborator David Grisman. "Stealin'" appeared performed by them on the album Shady Grove in 1996 and on the compilation album Acoustic Disc 100% Handmade Music, Volume 3 in 1997.

Album appearances[edit]

  • The Country Blues, Various Artists (Memphis Jug Band), 1959
  • Folksinger's Choice, Bob Dylan, 1962
  • Stealin', Bob Dylan, 1969
  • Great White Wonder II, Bob Dylan, 1970
  • San Francisco Bay Blues, Jesse Fuller, 1963
  • Singin' 'n' Sole-In, The Brotherhood (Don Partridge & Pat Keene),[1] 1966
  • Johnny Young and His Chicago Blues Band, Johnny 'Man' Young, 1966
  • Running Down the Road, Arlo Guthrie, 1969 (his version appears in the film "Two-Lane Blacktop")
  • Ragtime Jug Stompers, Dave Van Ronk, 1969
  • Clover, Clover, 1970
  • Schlagers!, Various Artists (Arlo Guthrie), 1970
  • Jim Kweskin's America, Jim Kweskin, 1971
  • Happy Just to Be Like I Am, Taj Mahal, 1971
  • Music People, Various Artists (Taj Mahal), 1972
  • Welcome The Rock People, Various Artists (Taj Mahal), 1972
  • Together In Concert, Pete Seeger, 1975
  • Janis Soundtrack, Janis Joplin, 1975
  • Reckless Abandon, David Bromberg, 1977
  • The Clover Chronicle: The Best Of The Fantasy Years, Clover, 1979?
  • Laughing At Life, (The Armpit Jug Band), 1985
  • The Best Of The Chicago Blues, Various Artists (Johnny Young's South Side Band), 1987
  • Complete Recorded Works, Vol 2 (1928-1929), Memphis Jug Band, 1990
  • Charles et Les Lulus, Arno Hintjens, 1991
  • Let No One Deceive You, Dave Van Ronk, 1992
  • Out On The Rolling Sea, Various Artists (Ralph McTell), 1995
  • What Kind of Woman Is That, Texas Red, 1997
  • Mandolin Blues, Various Artists (Johnny Young), 1997
  • Reckless Abandon / Bandit in a Bathing Suit, David Bromberg, 1998
  • Ruckus Juice & Chitlins, Vol. 2: The Great Jug Bands, Various Artists (Memphis Blues Band), 1998
  • Chasin' Gus' Ghost, John Sebastian, 1999
  • Still Crazy Soundtrack, Various Artists (Billy Connolly), 1999
  • Wire Less, The Blues Band, 2000
  • Memphis Jug Band Story: 1927-1934, Memphis Jug Band, 2000
  • As Good As It Gets: Country Blues, Various Artists (Memphis Blues Band), 2000
  • Essential Memphis Jug Band, Memphis Jug Band, 2001
  • Best of the Memphis Jug Band, Memphis Jug Band, 2001
  • When the Sun Goes Down: The Secret History of Rock & Roll, Various Artists (Memphis Blues Band), 2002
  • Back On Track, Bees Make Hone, 2003
  • Hot Fingerpickin' Slide Guitar, Various Artists (Johnny Johnston), 2003
  • Baby, Don't You Tear My Clothes, James Cotton, 2004
  • Live At Tonic EP, Wood Brothers, 2006
  • Old Town School of Folk Music Songbook, Vol. 4, Various Artists (Devil in a Woodpile), 2007
  • Wrong Doings and Done Wrongs, Escape the Floodwater Jug Band, 2008
  • Six Days on the Road, Dylan Charles and Karl Kerfoot, 2008


  1. ^ Fontana TL5390, track 6